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  • Today in Labor History – Haymarket
    Posted On: May 04, 2020

    Today in 1886, a little over 2000 workers held a rally at Haymarket in Chicago, Illinois. The rally was in response to five striking workers being murdered at the McCormick Reaper Plant just two days before over trying to secure an eight hour day and safe working conditions. The peaceful protest began at 7:30 pm and near the end of it, when only about 200 workers remained, 176 Chicago Police Officers showed up with Winchester rifles to put the workers down.

    Then someone, unknown to this day, threw the first dynamite bomb ever used in peacetime history of the US. The police panicked and started firing and in the darkness, many shot at their own men. By the time the night was done, seven police were killed, only one attributable to the bomb, along with four workers.

    Labor leaders representing a cross section of the Labor Movement were rounded up, and convicted, some of whom were not even at Haymarket. Seven of the eight men were tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Five of men had their sentences carried out before Governor John P Atgelf pardoned the three remaining men and condemned the entire judicial system that permitted the injustice.

    Haymarket was a major event in the fight for workers to have representation on the job and we should all remember blood that was spilled here and in too many other incidents that paved the way for what we have today.

    “No single event has influence the history of labor in Illinois the United States and even the world more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the actual evidence or point out its significance” — William J Adelman

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